A guest blog by Tony Nivens
Big Maw maw, as I called her, was known to most of the K-Springs/Chelsea, Alabama community as Aunt Jemima. She was an inspiration of faith and Christian Character to many in this area. School teacher, church worker, community benefactor, mom, grandmother and my great-grandmother, her heritage and stories are alive to many today. Thanks Mom, for the chance to share one story special to me.
Guest Blogger Tony Nivens with his Big Maw MawMom probably experienced Jemima Kendrick's influence as deeply as anyone not one of the Kendrick kids/grandkids. Shelba's husband, Ken Nivens, was raised by Jemima, his grandmother, in a time when many other influences in his life were absent because of war, work and family issues. Shelba as a young mother often sought her wisdom and experience. Shelba shared many of Jemima's recollections of the pioneers of the area in her first book. Indeed, Shelba dedicated the book to her memory.From dedication page from Early Settlers of the K-Springs/Chelsea Area:Maw maw was already white-haired and "ancient" to me as a kid but I remember her sweet loving spirit and earnest prayers. She always prayed that I would be a good boy. I'm sure my cousins were uncertain of that answer. She modeled the loving sharing spirit to me from a young age as I followed her in the flower garden carrying a basket for her to gather the bounty to share. She loved to minister to others and always shared her gorgeous flower arrangements with the church and neighbors.
She had lost her husband when just a young mother and had to learn to farm to provide for them. She also got a teaching certificate and became a school marm. She and the kids would live near the school during school term and move back to K-Springs in the summer to farm. I remember her working her large (to me) vegetable garden when she must have been over 80. I got to "help" her and Uncle Floyd pick 5 gallon buckets of beans. Then we sat on the porch and snapped them. She was always canning/freezing and again sharing with others.
As a matter of fact the first time I ever realized she wasn't indestructible was when she fell on the steps as she carried a jar of preserves to the basement. We all teased her that she took better care of the jar than herself. She seemed proud that she held onto the jar so it didn't break though she was bruised from the fall. She just smiled and shook her head good naturedly as we teased.
Hope I get a chance to share more with you. You gotta' hear about the rain miracle and almost running Pop down with the car.... Well, I'm not sure if the stories I remember about her past are from her or the retelling by Pop or from Mom's book but she definitely left me with a lasting impression.